Sunday, November 2, 2014
Failure may be first step to writing success
Let me tell you this: failure is normal. Especially when you are trying to be a writer. When you love something so much, you may think that success should come easily. But that is often far from the truth. There are countless people around the world who want to write, who want to tell their stories, but once they hit an obstacle, they wonder, “Is it worth it?” Rejections hurt; it doesn’t matter if they come from that Evil Editor in your head, or if it’s in an actual rejection in e-mail form. You’ve heard the stories about the multiple rejections from those who would become successful authors, but what about in business (which is really what writing for publication is)?
If you ask any successful businessperson about the path that they took to become successful, you will likely be surprised to hear about the many pitfalls, obstacles, setbacks, and outright failures that they experienced before they finally achieved success. After all, there is a reason that they say that for every two steps forward, there is one back.
Let’s take a look at some famous failures that you may not know about.
Take Oprah Winfrey. She’s an award winning talk show host, actress, philanthropist, and producer. She ranks among the wealthiest people in the world and is often cited as one of the most influential. But did you know that she was actually fired from her first television gig as a Baltimore news anchor? She also faced sexism and harassment while working there. She could have said, “Forget this!” and quit, believing that she was not cut out for the media industry. But she kept pushing forward.
What about Walt Disney? During his lifetime, he was responsible for the creation of 81 feature films, garnered over 950 awards (including 48 prized Academy Awards), built what is probably the most popular and successful amusement parks of all time, founded the California Institute of the Arts, and is the founder of Walt Disney studios. But did you know that his path to success was riddled with mountain sized roadblocks? He lost all of the rights to the character that became Bugs Bunny, he was fired from a newspaper job for lacking creativity and not having any good ideas. His grand opening of Disneyland was a disaster. Yet he went on to become one of the most recognized figures in the world.
R.H. Macy opened four stores between 1843 and 1855. All four of them failed. However, instead of chalking it up as a loss and giving up on his dreams, he learned from his mistakes and opened up a store that would go on to become what is now the largest department store in the nation. What would have happened if he had given up on his dreams just because he couldn’t see exactly where he would end up?
My point is this: you don’t always need to know exactly where your steps will lead you. Just know what your goals are, what your action steps are and take it one step at a time. There is a quote by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr that says it perfectly – “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.”
I love this quote because it also touches on how it is so easy to get stuck in preparation mode. Writers get stuck in this as much as potential entrepreneurs in other areas. Writers often wait for the “right time,” or “the right feeling.” We sometimes want everything to be perfect before we even start page one. That’s what’s great about things such as NaNoWriMo. These speed writing challenges help us get out of our own way and just get the words down, without thinking about where that staircase leads. Once we start stepping, we create action, which is the only way we can get past the preparation stage and make all of what we had planned to do someday a reality. Momentum!
So here is a challenge– step outside of your comfort zone whether or not you are taking a November writing challenge. Take the next step – whatever that may be. Remember why you love the idea of writing in the first place. These are the things that would motivate you to take action and move forward. One step at a time.
What is your next step on your staircase? Are you prepared to take at least one potentially uncomfortable step a day?
P.S. The Excuse Editor "Scoop" can now be accessed from this site. Just hit the tab "Writing Contests and Markets" above, or click here.